© Natalie Campbell, Graham Bell, Karin Lin, and Doug Rodgers 2008. All Rights Reserved.
Mission Peak Unitarian Universalist Congregation
March 2008

  1. Why Your Pledge Is Important, by Natalie Campbell
  2. The Interdependent Web at Mission Peak, by Graham Bell
  3. Our Future and Why It Matters, by Karin Lin
  4. How Much Should I Pledge? by Doug Rodgers

Why Your Pledge Is Important
by Natalie Campbell, March 9, 2008

I want you to know that as a young girl I refused to join the Girl Scouts for the sole reason that I hated to ask people for money when it was cookie-selling season. So please know that I would never be doing this if I didn't think the Renewal and Recommitment Campaign for Mission Peak was essential.

Before we had our daughter Maggie, Kevin and I would sleep in on weekends. Saturdays and Sundays were long, lazy days that were completely and wonderfully selfish and fun. To us, church cramped our weekend style, and since neither of us was particularly religious, we simply chose not to go. Well, once our daughter was born 4 years ago, that lifestyle came to a screeching halt. As she grew older, we realized the whole world did not just revolve around our tight-knit little circle of three. Having a child made us take a closer look at how we were raising Maggie and how we were preparing her to behave in the world.

We realized that what we wanted for her and for us was a community - a community in which we felt comfortable exploring our own ideas about religion and faith, and which taught Maggie about all kinds of religions and belief systems. I can tell you personally from teaching Sunday school this past year that the curriculum is outstanding. It's written in a way that is all-inclusive and educational. Plus, I learned about all kinds of Bible stories and religious holidays I've never heard of before. So on that front, I feel certain Mission Peak has been an excellent answer to our concern about teaching Maggie about religion.

But in order to meet this demand, we need a Director of Religious Education. In fact we are in the process of looking for someone to replace Sally Anger as our DRE and this takes money. That money comes from our pledges. And it's money well spent, in my book.

Of course, religious education and a sense of community are not only essential for my 4-year-old, but for our whole family. What really keeps all three of us coming back week after week are the people here in this congregation. Everyone is so dedicated to making our church special. I have never attended such a welcoming place of worship. Honestly, someone made us name tags after we had attended just one time.

The activities and programs that are available almost every night of the week are astounding, especially for such a modestly sized church. There are cultural diversity classes, women's groups, guest speakers, family retreats, book clubs, potlucks, and so much more.

Before I even joined Mission Peak I became a member of a small group ministry. Every other Monday night I met with other congregation members to discuss a variety of topics, and I really got to connect with the people on a deep level. The program filled something in me I hadn't even realized I was missing. And the reason I was able to do that activity at all, was because they offered babysitting. Week after week for a year, they paid for someone to watch my daughter. Do you know how expensive that is? But it was so important to me, and to the other parents in my group who used that service. And that is where pledge money is going, too. Such a little thing, but it meant so much to me that it was available.

After many weeks and months of small group ministry, I knew that we had to join Mission Peak. We came each Sunday, and were pleased to hear sermons on social justice, and to listen to church members speak on topics that were near and dear to our own philosophies. We felt part of something greater than ourselves - part of a group of people all working for a greater world, a more accepting, more peaceful, more thoughtful world. A world I want for my own child and for all children.

And so, in the Fall of 2007, we joined Mission Peak. And along with that commitment, we promised to make a monthly pledge to keep Mission Peak going and growing. That pledge was a promise to keep this congregation - that has come to mean so much to every member of our family - here for generations to come. If Mission Peak fills a need in your life, the way it does in ours, I urge you to make or renew your own commitment to this wonderful community.

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The Interdependent Web at Mission Peak
by Graham Bell, March 16, 2008

I was in Munich Germany this week. I was traveling alone on business, meeting clients and potential clients at a trade show in the high tech industry that Silicon Valley is famous for. Now, even though most folks in Germany look like me, I experienced a strong sense of isolation. I wasn't at home. I was a stranger. I know just a few words of German. It was winter time, and folks were bundled up against the cold weather. I did speak with people at the trade show, but the conversations were almost entirely related to business.

However, I did witness to the Unitarian Universalist movement while in some casual conversation with some academics from Hong Kong. I don't recall how I got on to it, but I did mention that about half of us are humanists and the other half are into god, goddess and so on. You may know me as someone who is not a humanist and I am exploring my relationship to God.

I am a member of Small Group Ministry. We have someone in our group who is from outside the Mission Peak community. That someone's spouse is afraid to leave their conservative Christian church, because he is afraid something bad might happen to them. Well, at Mission Peak we are not going to hear about a vengeful god except maybe as an historical footnote. I am glad we have the freedom here for a responsible search for truth and meaning - without fear.

I have been listening to the Catholic Radio station in the last few weeks. I enjoy listening to the faithfulness of the Catholics, and their respect for life. But there is something more. The interdependent web of existence of which we are apart is greater than any particular religious revelation to an historical prophet or savior. There is a Great Being that we are intimately connected to. At Mission Peak, we feel this Great Being in ourselves and see it in the faces and actions of our fellow Mission Peakers.

My experience in Germany made it clear that feeling connected and having a community is very important, where language and conversation is not a problem, where we are not held back by fear, but only by our ignorance of what is possible for you and me.

I want to say a few words about this Spring's Renewal and Recommitment campaign and your annual pledge to Mission Peak. I want to make it very clear that I am going to make an unreasonable request of you and that it is mine alone.

The President of the United States, the House of Representatives and the Senate have all agreed to send an Economic Stimulus payment to most of you in the month of May. Now I want you to give that money to Mission Peak, and not spend it at the gas pump, Starbucks or Kohl's department store.

Does this incentive check replace any of the money you were going to be pledging to Mission Peak for 2008? No! In addition to whatever increase you were going to make to your pledge from last year, I want you to add in whatever the Federal government sends you.

This is my answer to the question at the top of the Renewal and Recommitment campaign flyer: "What will we do this with this great gift?"

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Our Future and Why It Matters
by Karin Lin, March 30, 2008

When Cade and I decided to start looking for a church over six years ago, I knew pretty much one thing about Unitarian Universalism: you didn't have to believe in God, and so it was probably the only religion that I, a lifelong, militant atheist, could possibly find acceptable. And so we came to Mission Peak. Eventually I went to an Inquirer's Class, where I was supposed to learn about the history of our religion, but I didn't get it. I didn't understand why the Unitarian thing about God being One rather than God being Three was such a big deal. And I thought Universalists were just a bunch of sappy idealists with all their business about everyone being good and deserving of salvation. But I didn't have to believe in God and that was good enough for me.

In the meantime, I was happy at Mission Peak. I got involved in music, in Social Concerns, in teaching Sunday School, and I made lots of friends. The congregation became like family to me. All of that, of course, is still true.

But last July I went to PCD Leadership School, which is a week-long retreat run by the Pacific Central District of the Unitarian Universalist Association. It was then, only then, that I learned the rich and noble history of the movement to which we belong. It was then that I learned about people like Michael Servetus, Hosea Ballou, and Olympia Brown. I knew that Unitarian Universalists had always been active in political causes like abolitionism and women's suffrage but it was only then that I learned the reason: we have always been a religion that pushes the edge of what is true and what is just. And it was then that I learned to claim this heritage with pride, to identify myself not as "an atheist who goes to a Unitarian Universalist church", but simply to say, "I am a Unitarian Universalist."

I'm thrilled that Rev. David Sammons is here today to tell us more about our past and why it matters. But for now I'd like to talk about our future, a future that we have yet to write for ourselves. Another one hundred years from now, what will people say about Unitarian Universalism at the turn of the millennium? I can tell you what I want them to say. I want them to say that we were true to our tradition: that we fought for gay rights and environmental sustainability and compassion for the mentally ill. I want them to know that we worked to create multiracial, multicultural congregations at a time when most of America was content to remain segregated on Sunday morning. I want them to know and understand that we did these things because we were called to do so by our faith.

Mission Peak is a young and small congregation, filled with people who know each other well and care deeply about each other. And so when we make our pledges, it's easy to focus our attention inward, to think that what we give affects only this particular church. But let us remember that we are truly part of something larger. We have a role to play in writing the next chapter of the captivating, inspiring story of Unitarian Universalism. I take that responsibility seriously, and I will give generously because I believe with all my heart in the message of this story.

I leave you with these words of Olympia Brown, a Universalist minister and the first woman ever to be accorded full ordination in any denomination in America:

"Stand by this faith. Work for it and sacrifice for it. There is nothing in all the world so important as to be loyal to this faith which has placed before us the loftiest ideals, which has comforted us in sorrow, strengthened us for noble duty and made the world beautiful. Do not demand immediate results but rejoice that we are worthy to be entrusted with this great message, that you are strong enough to work for a great true principle without counting the cost. Go on finding ever new applications of these truths and new enjoyments in their contemplation, always trusting in life and love."

How Much Should I Pledge?
by Doug Rodgers, April 6, 2008

Over the last few Sundays you have heard a lot about Renewal and Recommitment to Mission Peak. If you are new to Mission Peak, or if this is your first Sunday, let me just say that we try hard not to talk about money all year long and instead we concentrate our fund raising into a period of a few weeks. Today is the start of the annual campaign. We are starting with $47,000 from eleven couples who met last Monday evening to get a head start.

Now it's your turn. It's time to make your decision about financial support for Mission Peak in the coming year. How much should you give? It's your decision, and here is some help in deciding how much is right for you.

The short answer is give until you feel good. But many of you want more specific guidelines, so here are three ways to look at your pledge. I suggest you consider all three points of view and then make a choice that you can feel good about.

First, when you look in the mirror every morning - and that handsome, smiling, vibrant face looks back at you - ask: is that the face of a generous person? How about when you look in your checkbook, or when you list charitable donations on your tax return? Do you give 10% of your income. That makes you generous by most standards. Five percent isn't bad either, but if it's 1% you may want to have a serious talk with yourself. You are the only one who knows your situation; and you get to decide what to do, but you should think seriously about it.

A second point of view is to look at what Mission Peak needs to meet our responsibilities, to pay rent and salaries, and do what we believe is important. This year our pledge total averages almost $100 per member per month ($200 per month for a couple). Next year we would like about 15% more, or $115. Of course some can't afford to give that much, and others can afford to give more but, divided evenly, that would be the amount. With a 15% increase we would be secure in meeting the expenses of securing an interim minister. If you want more details of how we spend our money, you can look at our financial statements on our web site, in the "members only" section.

Finally, what do others give? Perhaps it doesn't matter, but we are people after all, and we like to measure ourselves against others. Look at the chart in this year's brochure and figure out where you are. Are you able to move up a notch?

In any case, it's your pledge to make. Nobody else knows your situation and so you are the only one who gets to decide what is the right amount. We hope that you will take this decision seriously and that you will sign up for one of the dessert parties this week. At the party you can talk with your Mission Peak friends, get your questions answered, and make your pledge. THANK YOU for your support.

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